Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) have developed a novel virus-based gene therapy for renal cell carcinoma that has been shown to kill cancer cells not only at the primary tumor site but also in distant tumors not directly infected by the virus. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults and currently there is no effective treatment for the disease once it has spread outside of the kidney.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy, tested Sorafenib (Nexavar), a drug approved by the FDA to treat kidney cancer, in conjunction with a novel adenovirus (Ad.5/3-mda-7). Adenoviruses are viruses known to infect the upper respiratory tract. But when used for therapeutic purposes, the virus' harmful genetic material is replaced with genetic code that activates biological processes within infected cells. The Ad.5/3-mda-7 adenovirus used in this study was engineered to cause kidney cancer cells and normal cells protecting the kidneys to express the cancer-killing protein MDA-7/IL-24.